Govt dismisses zero hours backdown claim

Newstalk ZB Staff ,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 9 March 2016, 5:18AM
The Government was forced to seek support from Andrew Little and Labour after the Maori Party and United Future expressed concerns (Newspix).

The Government may have reversed its stance on zero hours contracts, but it's laughing off any suggestions it's a backdown.

LISTEN ABOVE: Labour leader Andrew Little speaks to Mike Hosking on Zero Hour Contracts

Labour and National have agreed to scrap the contracts which force workers to turn up to work without any promise of hours or compensation.

National was previously going to allow their use, but only when employees were reasonably compensated.

Opposition parties are crowing about a victory - including Labour, who said the changes that they demanded resulted in the banning of the contracts.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government was forced to seek its support after the Maori Party and United Future echoed their concern about the Employment Standards Legislation Bill in its original form.

Little said the changes recommended by Labour will help to stop the exploitation of workers under zero hour contracts.

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said they're grasping at straws.

"Look, throw a bone at someone to stop barking at cars, call it a back-down if you wish," Woodhouse said.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said they'll vote for the bill.

"It is a massive win for workers, for unions, and for those of us who fought to get rid of zero hours contracts, and a massive back-down from the Government," she said.

Unite Union national director Mike Treen said it will mean an end to controversial flexible work schemes.

He said some businesses were requiring workers to be on call for work 365 days a year without guaranteeing any work.

"Instead of managing staff and dealing with problems, they were simply rewarding and punishing people through the use of how many hours they give to people from week to week," he said.

Treen said almost everyone knows someone who works in industries affected by flexible work hour schemes.

"People not being able to assert their rights or some employers taking advantage of people in very vulnerable situations."

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